When residential consumers have a utility complaint, they need to know that they have an advocate that is strictly on their side and will fight for them
Columbus, Ohio (Vocus) September 27, 2007
Beginning October 1, Ohio’s residential utility consumers again have an advocate to turn to with complaints and disputes about their utility services. The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC), after two years of not being able to handle complaints, will once again work to resolve these utility issues and bring more benefits to consumers through its hotline, 1-877-PICKOCC (1-877-742-5622). This change was the result of the most recent state budget developed by Gov. Ted Strickland and the Ohio Legislature.
“When residential consumers have a utility complaint, they need to know that they have an advocate that is strictly on their side and will fight for them,” said Janine Migden-Ostrander, Consumers’ Counsel. “We are pleased to be once again working with consumers one-on-one and helping to resolve their complaints. We will strive to assist them in receiving better utility services.”
During the previous two-year budget period, all utility complaints were handled by state utility regulators. The OCC had continued to answer questions and respond to educational requests through its toll-free hotline. It monitored consumer’s utility issues by reviewing information provided by state regulators. However, by talking with consumers one-on-one about complaints and disputes, the OCC once again can directly address concerns, helping to ensure a more positive outcome for affected consumers.
The OCC hotline can assist consumers with electric, natural gas, telephone and water issues, including the following:
- Resolving a complaint about utility service
- Providing assistance on understanding charges on utility bills
- Inquiring about choosing a natural gas or telephone provider
- Receiving fact sheets on understanding utility bills and other related topics
- Learning cost-saving tips through energy efficiency
- Receiving information on disconnection and reconnection of utility services
- Learning how to apply for low-income assistance programs
While the OCC was unable to handle the complaints, it typically worked with consumers who wanted to learn about the choices they had in utility companies or provided answers to questions about charges on their utility bills. During the winter heating seasons, the OCC received many calls from consumers who were facing the loss of utility services and needed assistance in maintaining their service or getting their service reconnected.
Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. by calling 1-877-PICKOCC (1-877-742-5622). An automated informational voicemail service is available 24 hours a day. In addition to the toll-free number, consumers can reach consumer service representatives by sending requests or questions to occ @ occ.state.oh.us, visiting the website at http://www.pickocc.org or by writing to Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, 10 W. Broad Street, 18th floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215.
About the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel
The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC), the residential utility consumer advocate, represents the interests of 4.5 million households in proceedings before state and federal regulators and in the courts. The state agency also educates consumers about electric, natural gas, telephone and water issues and resolves complaints from individuals. To receive utility information, brochures, schedule a presentation or file a utility complaint, residential consumers may call 1-877-PICKOCC (1-877-742-5622) toll free in Ohio or visit the OCC website at http://www.pickocc.org.
Erin E. Biehl
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